PROFILE: Omega Architects’ pursuit of distinction

DRUTEN _ Frank Laupman’s Omega Architects studio boasts a well-stocked awards cabinet and A-list clients. Some 100 of his designs have been launched to date, revealing a clean elegance of smooth lines, with the odd renegade angle peeking through. An architect, Laupman works on yachts, homes and office buildings. Interiors and Exteriors. From A to Z. From Alfa to Omega.

With the global economy in bullish shape, he has been on a roll in recent years. He does not fear the future but asserts “the market for custom-built yachts is shifting. Major brands are building ever larger yachts. You see a shift to longer lengths, but you’ll also notice a great distinction in technical factors, like range or the capacity to store lots of tenders. The market has become incredibly competitive. We need to remain alert.”

He knows the market well. “An architect used to stand on a pedestal,” he tells Dutch Yacht Building. “Today, we work in build teams, with the client and the yard. We focus is on productive designing. I often leave design paper with clients. So, they can do their own drawings. That creates confidence.”

A yacht is foremost architecture. “Styling comes next,” says Laupman (1956) who studied architecture but found no work on account of an iffy economy. He joined Pieter Beeldsnijder’s studio, immersing himself in yacht design and from there moved to Heesen Yachts. In 1995 he went solo. He has private clients and you’ll find his name attached also to yachts from Mulder Shipyard (Netherlands), Alia Yachts (Turkey) and CRN and Benetti (Italy). Omega Architects is strong in conceptual designs and modern visualization techniques.

He received memorable awards for the 65m Galactica Star (left), built by Heesen Yachts in 2013, and the 73m (240 ft.)  Yalla, a private client commission, built at CRN. Both have forward leaning, fan bows that contrast sharply the slightly negative axe bow that he put on the 42m (138ft.) Sibelle, launched in 2008 by Heesen Yachts.

“In a busy market you have to be distinctive,” says Laupman. “A designer achieves that with a plumb bow, for instance. It is a styling element that also yields a longer waterline.” Sibelle’s bow is designed to keep the foreship reasonably dry at sea. The bow’s extra ‘deflectors’ help with that. Also, the plumb bow is repeated in Sibelle’s windows and superstructure, at a right angle to the yacht’s long, horizontal lines.

Sibelle’s (right) naval architecture was done by Van Oossanen Naval Architects. Omega Architects designed the exterior and interior (below). “The (interior’s) unity with the exterior is shown in the continuation of soft, round forms,” says Laupman. “Horizontal lines confirm length and space. Neutral tints generate a calming ambiance. Wall cladding and furniture of bleached and brushed teak create an ‘old wood’ atmosphere. Indirect lighting and soft materials reinforce the interior’s intimate, comfortable character. In all, the interior evokes a dacha, a Russian country house or cottage, where guests can relax and enjoy their well-earned leisure time.”

A major success for Laupman was the launch in 2017 of the 50m. (164 ft.), aluminum-hulled Heesen-built Home. Its hybrid propulsion and Van Oossanen’s Fast Displacement Hull Form (FDHF) give the yacht a top speed of 16,3 knots and a range of 3,750 sea miles.

Laupman’s Omega’s 125ft. NedXplor 38 concept _ a robust expedition yacht _ is an expedition design that is increasingly in demand these days as young owners come onto the market looking for more adventurous destinations than Monaco. “It appeals to clients who want to step away from the ‘gin palaces’ dotting the Mediterranean,” says Laupman. “A design like the NedXplor 38 (below) says they are interested in travel.”

A truly standout Laupman design is the 60m (197ft.) FDHF motor yacht Heesen will deliver in 2021. Code-named Falcon, it is Heesen’s largest steel yacht to date. Laupman gave it a clean, chiseled exterior and a novelty: a bird’s wing integrating the main, bridge and sun decks.  The muscular yacht (1,060GT) will have floor-to-ceiling windows, aft doors coupled with lowered bulwarks for panoramic views and lots of natural light streaming in. It will be powered by 2 MTU 12V4000 M65L diesel engines, reach a top speed of 17.5 knots.

Regardless of a yacht’s size, key to Laupman’s work are the human dimension, a yacht’s intended use and natural walking routes on it. Laupman: “it is a matter of feeling. A ship must feel good. And the scale has to be right.”